Autophagy lessens ischemic liver injury by reducing oxidative damage

Kai Sun, Xuqin Xie, Yan Liu, Zhipeng Han, Xue Zhao, Ning Cai, Shanshan Zhang, Jianrui Song, Lixin Wei*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Hepatic ischemia/reperfusion is a multi-factorial process which causes liver injury. It is reported that ischemia alone is sufficient to induce liver injury. Nutrient deprivation is a crucial factor impacting ischemic injury of the liver. Therefore, we explored the role of autophagy in ischemia through using hepatic ischemia rat model in vivo and nutrient-free model in vitro.Results: We found that both ischemia in vivo and nutrient deprivation in vitro activated autophagy, inhibition of which aggravated ischemia- or nutrient deficiency-induced injury. In the nutrient-free condition, autophagy inhibition enhanced liver cell necrosis but not apoptosis by promoting reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation, and antioxidant NAC could reverse this trend. Inhibition of autophagy also resulted in the increase of the percentage of necrotic cell but not apoptotic cell in the ischemia-treated rat livers. Further studies showed that under nutrient deprivation, autophagy inhibition promoted mitochondrial ROS generation, which further aggravated mitochondria damage. These changes formed a " vicious cycle" that accelerated the process of cell necrosis. Autophagy inhibition also increased mitochondrial oxidative stress during hepatic ischemia, and antioxidant could suppress the aggravation of ischemia-induced liver damage in the co-treatment of autophagy inhibitor.Conclusions: Taken together, our results suggested that autophagy suppressed ischemic liver injury by reducing ROS-induced necrosis. This finding will contribute to the development of the therapeutic strategy about the pre-treatment of liver surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalCell and Bioscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Autophagy
  • Liver ischemia
  • Necrosis
  • Nutrient deprivation
  • Reactive oxygen species


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